We’ve looked at ecosystems before and are now turning our eyes to biomes. Biomes are often confused with ecosystems but they shouldn’t be. Hundreds or thousands of ecosystems can exist within one biome; the species within it have adapted especially for that biome’s conditions.
These conditions are caused often by factors which aren’t brought about by animals and plants, such as soil, geology and climate.
Desert – most notable in Africa, Asia and Central America. Water is the source of all life and so in a very dry environment like a desert, life is scarce. Those species which do survive need very special adaptations. Scorpions, for example, have a very tough outer coating to prevent their bodies from drying. Cacti are capable of storing huge masses of water to keep them alive through long dry stretches.
Ocean – the ocean is home to many creatures who couldn’t survive elsewhere – certainly not in the Sahara or halfway up Everest! Oceans can be warm or cold and their different levels are home to various creatures: turtles near the light, warm surface, and glowing angler fish in the deepest, darkest depths.
Tundra – the greatest threat in the tundra is the low temperatures. Plants such as moss, heath and lichen grow closely together and can perform photosynthesis even when cold. Animals such as musk oxen and polar bears have long, thick coats in order to keep warm. Like the scorpion in its very different environment, these animals have adapted outer “coats” which protect their bodies from the extreme climate.
In our next post, we’ll look at the other biomes of grasslands, mountains and forests!